I Am a Chair

 

I am a place setting.

I am a name, on a card.

I am not my religion, my mate, my passion, or my goals.

I am a chair.

I am to sit and smile, to pass the bread.

I am a daughter, a grandson, a mother, an uncle.

I am not a person.

If I were to mention my religion, the smiles harden, the next hand recoils as if about to contract a disease.

If a love interest arises, the conversation becomes quiet, polite, without eye contact.

If I open my heart about my latest accomplishment, political backlash is implied with a quiet change of subject.

Oh – but I forgot –

I am a chair.

I was invited.

But I am not to attend.

I am to bring a dish.

I am to bring my kids.

I am to hug and kiss family.

And then leave without any real story told.

The cruel words handed to me?

They were deserved, because I am unacceptable.

They must be forgotten, unmentioned.

The silence between events?

My relatives needn’t contact me, even if they visit together.

The times “the whole family” got together – except me?

I am a chair.

I am a holiday accessory, required to be there, noticed only in my absence.

I am the running joke, permitted to come so that everyone can laugh about it when I leave the room.

I am the forbidden subject, the tolerated conversation, the how-soon-can-I-get-out-of-here guest.

I love you, too.

Because that’s what love means, right?

 

No.

I am able to be more than a chair.

I am able to set my own table.

I am able to make my own, where I am invited all the way, and you are too –

If you’re willing to offer the same to everyone.

I am able to give thanks for what I am thankful for –

My religion, my mate, my passion, my goals.

I can love with my whole heart, and not just what’s acceptable.

My children can be themselves, all that they might be.

We can share the good, the bad, the whole story.

Because I am able to be more than a chair at the table.

Because I can lead with honesty.

Because I can lead with my heart.

Because I can give thanks for all that I am.

 

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